​​Nick Viall and Ben Higgins Join Criticism of 2 'Bachelorette' Leading Ladies: 'Icky and Unfair'

Viewers aren't thrilled with how ABC formatted the two-lead Bachelorette season for Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey — and some prominent members of Bachelor Nation have the same complaints

Nick Viall, Ben Higgins, Gabbey Windey, Rachel Recchia
Photo: Brent N. Clarke/FilmMagic; Frank Micelotta/ABC via Getty; JC Olivera/Getty

Two former Bachelors aren't happy with how this season of The Bachelorette is playing out.

Nick Viall and Ben Higgins spoke candidly about the seasons co-led by Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey — including how it may not be working well for ABC.

"I get the spirit of the choice so to speak, but this show is unfortunately set up where it's just impossible to not have them compete against themselves just by default," Viall, 41, told E! News.

"I think it certainly makes for drama, but I think for a lot of people watching it it just feels a little icky and unfair to both Gabby and Rachel," he continued. "I think they're kind of taking away from some of the enjoyment."

Gabby, Rachel and their 14 remaining men continue their seaside journey across Europe,

Recchia and Windey stepped out of the Bachelorette mansion on night one to meet the same group of men. Over time, the men chose a side (or "team" — phrasing which also received criticism from viewers.) As the season has progressed, though, the sides haven't been set in stone. Monday night's episode saw a man leave Recchia's team to pursue Windey.

Higgins, 33, chimed in to applaud how Windey and Recchia have handled the season by putting their friendship first. "The reason it's working at all is because of the two leads," he said. "I think they're doing a really good job navigating this."

Adding that the season is "messy," Higgins spoke to Recchia becoming the underdog when she was rejected by three men in one episode.

"She probably felt more [overwhelmed] than most have ever felt on the show and that would break you," he said. "It would be really hard, then, to try to navigate it and feel confident in your dating relationships."

"As Nick said, I'm optimistic that she will find her confidence and that she will walk forward and have a couple relationships that really push her forward, and I think Gabby will do the same. But right now I still just watch it and I'm like, 'I don't know. It's not hitting me like some seasons were hitting in the past.'"

THE BACHELORETTE - "1901” – Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia’s two-shot at love takes flight! A whopping 32 men arrive to the mansion with the hopes of wooing the ladies with their charm, but they’ll soon realize it’s going to take more than dashing good looks and a memorable entrance to win the heart of one of these Bachelorettes. Rachel and Gabby have put their breakups in the rearview and are ready to find their person … even if that means breaking all the rules on night one. A double-the-drama season for the books begins when “The Bachelorette” premieres MONDAY, JULY 11 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Craig Sjodin) RACHEL RECCHIA, GABBY WINDEY
Gabby and Rachel. Craig Sjodin/ABC

Viall and Higgins are far from the first to criticize how ABC handled the two-lead season. Alongside general fan complaints, former Bachelorette (and former temporary Bachelorette host) Kaitlyn Bristowe aired her thoughts on the season via Instagram.

"How do we feel about this?" she asked her Instagram followers of the "Team Gabby" and "Team Rachel" marketing. "I love both of these women. I don't have a team. There shouldn't be teams. There should be connections. I'm asking myself the same thing, why are we branding it this way?"

Added Bristowe, 37: "I want to believe it's all worth it if they are happy. I just disagree with the journey to get there. PS I still love this franchise. It's a weird relationship. Always has been."

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The Bachelorette airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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